When we moved from our previous home I was so very sorry to leave my blackberry plants behind. I really wanted to dig them up and take them with us to our homestead but alas my husband refused. Moving everything we owned was enough work in itself. That first year we did not plant much of anything, because it was already summer and past planting season. We did plant some fruit trees in the fall but my berry plants would have to wait.
Next spring I planted elderberries, blueberries, and of course..my beloved blackberries. They are nature’s candy… sweet, succulent, and very good for you. They are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C and the seeds have fiber and omega fatty acids. Oh and they taste delicious! There is no issue getting kids to eat these tasty indigo globes.
The downside is that they can be pricey to buy so that is why is best to grow them yourself. They are actually pretty easy to plant and take care of and they will last for many, many years. You don’t need a whole lot of space and they are self pollinating, which means even a single blackberry plant will produce blackberries.
Growing Your Own Blackberries
First, I would take a trip to your local nursery to see which varieties do well in your area but Himalaya Giant and Bedford Giant are two of the hardiest. Melton Early stays compact if you have very little room to grow. Apache is very high yield if you want lots of berries. See what you can get locally and what works best for your area.
It is best to plant blackberries early in the spring, just as soon as the ground is warm enough to work. Blackberries can get by even in less than ideal conditions but optimal would be full sun and well drained soil. The crown of the roots should be level with the soil surface. Spread the roots out so they are not cramped and keep the soil moist throughout summer. Apply compost or compost tea annually, just as blooms appear. Typically you will see blackberries the following summer. Often times a trellis is helpful to improve air circulation around your plants and avoid disease. You can also keep your canes pruned to a height of no more than four feet if you do not have a trellis.
After berry production stops, trim the stems that produced berries to ground level. Do not not cut non productive stems because they will be your producers next summer. You should have delicious berries from July through the beginning of August in most areas. Since the season is only 4-6 weeks you will want to make a plan for harvesting and preserving what you won’t eat right away. Though no one in the family minds a season blackberry pancakes every morning!
The berries are ready when they are deep purple, almost black and they plop off very easily. Pick as they ripen to encourage more growth. They will keep in the fridge for about four days and you can always freeze them as well for smoothies and baked goods come fall/winter. Enjoy!